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Train's Monahan has affinity for SPAC

Train's Monahan has affinity for SPAC

'I like to go out to where maybe there's one of me out there'
Train's Monahan has affinity for SPAC
Lead singer Patrick Monahan performs with Train.
Photographer: Facebook.com/Train

Patrick Monahan sings what he feels.

Many times, Monahan has romance in his heart. The lead vocalist for San Francisco-based rock band Train sings about love in "Drops of Jupiter" --  "She acts like summer and walks like rain" -- and "Drive By"  --  "Oh I swear to ya, I'll be there for ya ..."

They're catchy and bouncy pieces, songs that might convince people to raise a fist or sing along with the band.

Monahan wants people singing with his crew, which plays the Saratoga Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Sunday. British singer-songwriter Natasha Bedingfield and rock jam band O.A.R. open the show.

The 45-year-old Monahan recently inducted 1970s and 1980s rockers Journey into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.

"There's a kindred part of us that is connected, not just San Francisco," Monahan said of the two bands during a telephone interview from home in the state of Washington. "Steve Perry was writing about chivalry and loving romance, things like that that were probably not as popular."

Chivalry and love set to music can be tricky -- they can get a rock band into trouble.

"That kind of thing ruined the band Foreigner," Monahan said. "Foreigner was a rock band and they all of a sudden had 'I Want to Know What Love Is,' it was the biggest song in the world but it ruined their touring career.

"I've just never been afraid of talking about things that I liked," Monahan continued. "My dad, he loved Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer and all that music that felt good. He was like, 'Why would people watch a movie that was about something sad? Aren't we all trying to get away from that?'"

If Train's songs make people feel good, Monahan is cool with the notion. The outfit some have described as an American roots band formed in 1993, has released 10 studio albums and sold more than 10 million albums.

Train is also known for big music and big stories in big video productions. They look sharp, sound sharp and are all part of the plan. Music videos help market the band.

"It went away for a while, and now it's pretty powerful," Monahan said of the art form. "A lot of kids, they don't listen to the radio and they don't try to find new music anywhere but YouTube. "So you have to provide something worth watching."

Monahan is worth watching during performances. At the band's last SPAC appearance, he left the stage, walked through the pavilion and ended up in the lawn section.

"It depends on the venue," Monahan said. "SPAC, the whole inside can light up so you can see me, where some venues, they won't light the pavilion so you have to see if a spotlight can follow you, and it stops around row 7, so it's a bust.

"I just like to go out to where I used to watch concerts," Monahan added. "I grew up outside Pittsburgh and Cleveland; I could never afford to sit in that pavilion. I like to go out to where maybe there's one of me out there."

Some cool things about Monahan and the band:


In June 2016, Train released "Train Does Led Zeppelin II," and covered the legendary British rock band's 1969 second album in its entirety.

Monahan knows a band takes a risk when they cover such well-known, revered work. "You get a lot of people who say, 'Holy crap, that's really great!' Or why would you do this to my favorite band?'

Train got help from Led Zep, who listened to the finished work.

"We sent it to those guys and I said, 'Hey man, this is going to go on sale,' all the money will go to our charity in San Francisco," Monahan said. "If you don't want it to happen, it won't happen. And they were like, 'Do your thing,man, we love it.'"


Train's charity is Family House, which supports families of children undergoing treatment for cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.


Train founded the Save Me, San Francisco Wine Co. in 2011. The business sells wine named after the group's hit songs, such as the "Drops of Jupiter" California red, "Calling All Angels" chardonnay" and the "Soul Sister" pinot noir.


"Calling All Angels" became a hit with the Los Angeles Angels professional baseball team and was played before every home game at Angel Stadium during the 2010 season.


Monahan has performed with the Hollies and INXS and recorded with Martina McBride. "My list is deep," Monahan said of possible collaborations in the future. "I would love to work with almost everybody. I can't really think of too many artists I don't want to work with."


Monahan has sung the National Anthem at several sporting events, such as the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio; the 2011 home opener of the San Francisco Giants; the 2012 Daytona 500; the 2014 home opener for the San Francisco 49ers; and game six of the 2016 Stanley Cup Finals at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., between the San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins. "It's terrifying," Monahan said of the gig, with all eyes on him, that lasts just over a minute.


Monahan has appeared on television dramas such as "Hawaii Five-0" and "CSI: NY" He'd consider other roles, but with conditions.

"Only if I wrote it or someone wrote it specifically for me," he said. "Acting is like the National Anthem for me, it's very difficult. Some people make it look easy but it's not. Remembering other people's words for me has always been a struggle, even in school. I remember my words because I write them. Acting is a different world, so I would do it if it was the right situation."


"I like to pay tribute to those we've lost recently, but this tour, we're going to pay tribute to people who have inspired this new record ['A Girl, a Bottle, a Boat']," Monahan said. "We'll play some Beach Boys, some Drifters, Paul Simon, Stan Getz. Some of those people aren't with us any more and some are. Also, we always perform with other acts on the bill. So O.A.R. will be joining us, they're really sweet people.

"It will be a lot of fun and our production is better than it's ever been because we have a new team of people working with us. I think visually and musically, it will be the coolest thing we've ever done."


WITH: O.A.R. and Natasha Bedingfield
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Saratoga Performing Arts Center, 108 Avenue of the Pines, Saratoga Springs
HOW MUCH: $222-$18
MORE INFO: www.spac.org

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